Published on August 27th, 2018 | by Justin G.
Paradise Lost: Host – Reissue (Nuclear Blast)
UK-based doom/death/gothic metal band Paradise Lost’s 1999 album Host was recently reissued, and that’s as good a reason as any to revisit what is arguably their most reviled album. For some context on where the band was at the time, they had made the shift from their early doom/death sound to a much more accessible (but still quite metallic) gothic metal sound, with albums like Draconian Times and One Second that are still considered classics of the genre. They continued their push towards a more gothic sound on Host, but it may have been one step too far.
Host is essentially a Depeche Mode album. It’s a gothic, electronic-influenced rock album, with next to no metallic traces left. Gregor Mackintosh’s guitars, so crucial to the Paradise Lost sound, are muted, with his keyboards pushed to the forefront. Nick Holmes had already abandoned the growled vocal style of the early Paradise Lost albums, but even he sounds more restrained here. Captivating as always, but restrained. None of which is to say that Host is a bad album. If you can set aside the fact that it’s not a metal album, or that minus the vocals it’s not really recognizable as a Paradise Lost album, the songs are pretty solid and it has a great atmosphere. Background music probably isn’t high praise, but if you’re looking for something chill to have on while you’re doing other things, this works really well.
Listening to the album nearly 20 years after its release, especially since it’s an album that never gets taken off the shelf like Draconian Times or Gothic does, does give you a new appreciation for Host. If nothing else, you have to admire a band that’s willing to push the boundaries and not play it safe. They eventually got back to a perfect mix of gothic and metal sounds (see the excellent Symbol of Life) before going full circle back to the doom/death sound, but Host may be their boldest move. It may not be Paradise Lost’s finest hour, but it is definitely worth revisiting, especially now that it has been reissued.
Reissue Notes: Nuclear Blast reissued this one, and aside from a really impressive remastering job, it isn’t quite what it should be. The new color scheme on the cover is fine, but the digipack looks so cheap and disposable. It also lacks any kind of bonus tracks (there was at least one worthy b-side from that era) or band input into the liner notes. Minor gripes to be sure, but it’s always frustrating to see an album reissued without any thought put into it.
Summary: Worth a second listen